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Here is a link to a site explaining how science is under attack from the radical right in the United States today, and why it is important to stand up for science as Matthew did.

http://www.defendscience.org/statement.html

The site links to other sources.

The stem cell research is something that particularly weighed on me...the potential there is nearly inconceivable, possible cures for things we thought were uncurable, and yet because of some religious tenet, funding for it is stifled. It's shocking and abhorrent...and it's costing lives. How can people live with choosing their personal 'satisfaction' from having their religious beliefs 'followed' over the lives and well-being of others? How disgustingly selfish can one be?

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Here is a link to a site explaining how science is under attack from the radical right in the United States today, and why it is important to stand up for science as Matthew did.

http://www.defendscience.org/statement.html

The site links to other sources.

I found two lies in under two minutes.

1) The claim that the administration would deny federal funds to "an entire field" of research--that's a lie. The Bush administration was the first to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research (the ethically questionable avenue of stem cell research). The administration limited the number of stem cell lines that researchers might use.

"I have concluded that we should allow federal funds to be used for research on these existing stem cell lines, where the life and death decision has already been made."

http://www.defendscience.org/statement.html

The administration pushed for alternative stem cell research (as with placental stem cells). Is that not a part of the "entire field"?

Why lie in "defense" of science? Could a good scientist have gotten the facts wrong on this?

2) The defenders of science take a quotation from Bush out of context. Where he makes a statement friendly to evolution (short of endorsing it), it is presented as though Bush denied evolution. Here's the quotation in its fullest readily-available form, from a NYT story by Laurie Goldstein.

"I think that for example on the issue of evolution, the verdict is still out on how God created the earth," he said, a cautious response that would be acceptable to some creationists yet separates Mr. Bush from the Biblical fundamentalists. "I don't use the Bible as necessarily a way to predict the findings of science."

Has LaClair admitted yet that he was wrong about the Big Bang, BTW?

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Guest Loki
Here is a link to a site explaining how science is under attack from the radical right in the United States today, and why it is important to stand up for science as Matthew did.

http://www.defendscience.org/statement.html

The site links to other sources.

Now I get it, it was done for all of us in the name of SCIENCE. If you pull the other leg, it will play Jingle Bells.

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Guest 2smart4u
Here is a link to a site explaining how science is under attack from the radical right in the United States today, and why it is important to stand up for science as Matthew did.

http://www.defendscience.org/statement.html

The site links to other sources.

Paul's true colors have been exposed. "defend science.org " is a radical left web site that loves to "blame America first". In their minds America and the republican party are to blame for everything. They want a godless and permissive society with no rules where anything goes; free drugs, late term abortions, no personal responsibility for anything.

Kind of fits right in with sneaking a tape recorder into a classroom to use a teachers words against him.

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Guest Paul
Now I get it, it was done for all of us in the name of SCIENCE.  If you pull the other leg, it will play Jingle Bells.

The integrity of science education was one of Matthew's and my main concerns from the beginning. Our attorney Richard Mancino came to us through the National Center for Science Education. Just because you don't understand the connection doesn't mean that others don't.

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Guest Loki
The integrity of science education was one of Matthew's and my main concerns from the beginning. Our attorney Richard Mancino came to us through the National Center for Science Education. Just because you don't understand the connection doesn't mean that others don't.

It's not the connection I don't understand, it is quite simple. I do not believe that those are your actual motives, just because you say it; that doesn't make it necessarily so. Now, in fairness, I can't possibly no what your motives truly are, but from what I've read of your posts you are both self-serving and self aggrandizing, my opinion.

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The stem cell research is something that particularly weighed on me...the potential there is unbelievable, possible cures for things we thought were uncurable, and yet because of some religious tenet, funding for it is stifled. It's shocking and abhorrent...and it's costing lives. How can people live with choosing their personal 'satisfaction' from having their religious beliefs 'followed' over the lives and well-being of others? How disgustingly selfish can one be?

Newsflash for Strife (who is apparently uninformed and misled by the site Paul linked):

Stem cell research receives plenty of federal funding. Embryonic stem cell research outside of the existing stem cell lines specified early in Bush's presidency cannot receive federal funds.

Apparently it doesn't even occur to Strife that harvesting living human embryos for their stem cells is itself shocking and abhorrent.

I'll credit Paul LaClair at least for admitting to a complex ethical situation surrounding the abortion issue (and probably this issue, by association), but it apparently doesn't yet register on Strife's moral map.

Edited by Bryan
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Paul's true colors have been exposed.  "defend science.org " is a radical left web site that loves to "blame America first". In their minds America and the republican party  are to blame for everything. They want a godless and permissive society with no rules where anything goes; free drugs, late term abortions, no personal responsibility for anything.

  Kind of fits right in with sneaking a tape recorder into a classroom to use a teachers words  against him.

Yeah, we all know your head's on straight, 2dim.

lol, you are so full of it.

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Guest Guest
It's not the connection I don't understand, it is quite simple.  I do not believe that those are your actual motives, just because you say it; that doesn't make it necessarily so.  Now, in fairness, I can't possibly no what your motives truly are, but from what I've read of your posts you are both self-serving and self aggrandizing, my opinion.

You admit you have no basis for questioning those motives. So don't question them. Instead, look within yourself and ask what you're missing.

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Stem cell research receives plenty of federal funding.  Embryonic stem cell research outside of the existing stem cell lines specified early in Bush's presidency cannot receive federal funds.

True.

Apparently it doesn't even occur to Strife that harvesting living human embryos for their stem cells is itself shocking and abhorrent.

I like the way you phrased that to make it seem like someone wants to yank living fetuses out of pregnant women and use them for research. Are you similarly shocked at the fate of all those extra embryos created during IVF? Most of those will just be discarded as unusable. Equally abhorrent?

The stem cell research is something that particularly weighed on me...the potential there is nearly inconceivable, possible cures for things we thought were uncurable, and yet because of some religious tenet, funding for it is stifled. It's shocking and abhorrent...and it's costing lives. How can people live with choosing their personal 'satisfaction' from having their religious beliefs 'followed' over the lives and well-being of others? How disgustingly selfish can one be?

OK, but let's be fair. First, as Bryan correctly points out, even embryonic stem cell research is not completely barred from federal funding. Second, we don't know that the current situation is costing lives. That assumes that research into embryonic stem cells (other than the federally approved cell lines) will actually lead to cures that cannot be achieved more quickly by other means. That may be true, but we don't know.

Finally, I think you're unfairly trivializing people's religious beliefs in your last two sentences. Some Christians believe that God ensouls each embryo at the moment of conception. For the people who believe that, preventing abortions is not just a matter of personal satisfaction. From their perspective, a fertilized egg has equal moral standing to a child or an adult. From that perspective, it's exactly about the well-being of others.

I don't share those beliefs, but I think it's quite unfair to say that it's just a matter of personal satisfaction and selfishness for most abortion opponents.

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Guest Loki
You admit you have no basis for questioning those motives. So don't question them. Instead, look within yourself and ask what you're missing.

I admit that I don't really KNOW what his motives are, but somehow you know enough about me that you can judge.

Sorry, I am missing nothing; they have their beliefs, and I have mine. But perhaps you could leave logic to the others you fail miserably.

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I admit that I don't really KNOW what his motives are, but somehow you know enough about me that you can judge.

Sorry, I am missing nothing; they have their beliefs, and I have mine.  But perhaps you could leave logic to the others you fail miserably.

"I am missing nothing; they have their beliefs, and I have mine."

That says absolutely nothing except that your beliefs are more important to you than any facts in relation to those beliefs. Asked for some evidence to support your feeling (which you then morph into a "belief"), you reiterate that you don't have any, and yet redouble your stubborn insistence on believing whatever the hell you want to believe. It says much about you, and nothing about your targets. It is possible, for example, that you do not understand them; without any basis for your belief, that is the most logical and most civil conclusion.

There has been a breakdown in civility in our society with the rise of attack-dog politics, "reality TV," etc. It is divisive and intellectually irresponsible. All you need do to demean or belittle someone is want to believe the worst. The facts don't matter, and with that we begin to create a society that is both less kind and less responsible at the same time. This kind of post, from Loki, contributes to that.

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OK, but let's be fair. First, as Bryan correctly points out, even embryonic stem cell research is not completely barred from federal funding. Second, we don't know that the current situation is costing lives. That assumes that research into embryonic stem cells (other than the federally approved cell lines) will actually lead to cures that cannot be achieved more quickly by other means. That may be true, but we don't know.

From the research I've read, it at LEAST sure doesn't seem like a dead end--normally stoic scientists are getting quite excited about it; that's gotta mean something. *chuckles* So if not "costing lives," at least "impeding medical research into a field that has a lot of promise." Is that better?

Finally, I think you're unfairly trivializing people's religious beliefs in your last two sentences. Some Christians believe that God ensouls each embryo at the moment of conception. For the people who believe that, preventing abortions is not just a matter of personal satisfaction. From their perspective, a fertilized egg has equal moral standing to a child or an adult. From that perspective, it's exactly about the well-being of others.

But how true can that be (objectively speaking) when at the very same time they're denying a whole lot of people, people who are already born and who CAN feel the pain and suffering their diseases cause them, the hope for a cure, or in the best case, the cure itself? I think at best the two cancel each other out--that's why I phrased it the way I did.

I don't share those beliefs, but I think it's quite unfair to say that it's just a matter of personal satisfaction and selfishness for most abortion opponents.

Well, I may have been a bit 'biased' (not sure if that's quite the right word) considering the arguments with several actual abortion opponents I've had in the past. Their arguments have always (and depressingly) boiled down to something as selfish as "I don't like that people (often singling out women) are having pre-marital sex without consequences," so it's hard to ignore those 'experiences' when I think about something like this. I apologize if you think my comment went 'too far,' but at the very least, I can say that there are many people out there who fit the 'description' I gave.

P.S. There is a difference between being anti-abortion and being anti-choice, so I wouldn't narrow this down to being about "abortion opponents." Many people who are against abortion are also in favor of not imposing that on others, so they're pro-choice also.

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Apparently it doesn't even occur to Strife that harvesting living human embryos for their stem cells is itself shocking and abhorrent.

I like the way you phrased that to make it seem like someone wants to yank living fetuses out of pregnant women and use them for research.

And I did it without mentioning pregnant women or even the term "fetus" (I used "embryo" and you might be interested in the difference between the two):

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fetus

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/embryo

Would you be able to answer if you were expected to explain what part of my post led you to conclude that I made it "seem like someone wants to yank living fetuses out of pregnant women and use them for research."?

Are you similarly shocked at the fate of all those extra embryos created during IVF?

Shocked, no. Is it an ethical problem? Yes.

It's not the same ethical problem, though.

Most of those will just be discarded as unusable. Equally abhorrent?

Equally, no. Similarly, yes.

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Newsflash for Strife (who is apparently uninformed and misled by the site Paul linked):

Stem cell research receives plenty of federal funding.  Embryonic stem cell research outside of the existing stem cell lines specified early in Bush's presidency cannot receive federal funds.

Apparently it doesn't even occur to Strife that harvesting living human embryos for their  stem cells is itself shocking and abhorrent.

I'll credit Paul LaClair at least for admitting to a complex ethical situation surrounding the abortion issue (and probably this issue, by association), but it apparently doesn't yet register on Strife's moral map.

I was surprised, and then not surprised, at this post by Bryan. Surprised that someone who is clearly intelligent would muddy an important issue at the same time he is accusing Strife of being uninformed or misled on that same issue. Surprised because he challenges the geography of someone else's "moral map" at the same time he does not show willingness to honestly navigate his own. Not surprised? Because this is not the first time Bryan has gone down this kind of path.

It is fine to say that stem cell research receives "plenty of federal funding," but "plenty" seems intended to presume "satisfactory" or "sufficing." Bryan knows full well that MANY scientists working on stem cell research, and particularly those working on embryonic stem cell research, have been highly critical of the Bush Administration's decisions regarding federal funding of such research. (I won't say "most" scientists, because I'm not a pollster, and I don't want to be accused by Bryan of overstepping the data, which I don't have the time to compile at this writing.)

Bryan correctly acknowledges "stem cell research outside of the existing stem cell lines specified early in Bush's presidency cannot receive federal funds." But he seems to use this funding of a very limited, dead-end line of samples to bolster his argument that there is "plenty" of federal funding for stem cell research, even embryonic stem cell research. Yet he does NOT acknowledge the obvious uproar that this decision created, due to scientific concerns about the viability and limitations of the approved lines, the degree to which the Bush policy decision has actually affected progress in embryonic stem cell research, and the scientific adequacy of non-embryonic pathways.

Bryan's response apparently assumes that the viability of research pathways beyond the embryonic stem cell approach will suffice as a tradeoff for the restricted research options in embryonic stem cell lines. He apparently ignores issues of the breadth of outcomes, their effectiveness, timeliness, and cost, trumped by his own moral map.

Bryan says it doesn't occur to Strife that "harvesting living human embryos for their stem cells is itself shocking and abhorrent." He didn't say "might be," or "could be considered to be" or "some might find it that." He says "is." The implication is that the stated position is his own, and that he is obviously right. (Please don't get into a dissection of the definition of "is.")

The obvious problem with his simplistic summary is that Bryan is assuming the definition of "living," in order to play the "shock and abhor" strategy, and thus claim the high road when comparing his moral map to Strife's. So, Bryan, what is your definition of life? Does it begin at conception? Or even before? Is an unfertilized egg "living" How to you feel about "living sperm?"

If any case, is your definition based on science? Religion? Ethics? Do you believe that a one-minute-old fertilized egg experiences pain when it is destroyed, or has a consciousness that disappears? Do you believe that a soul enters a fertilized egg at the moment of conception, and that is why it is shocking and abhorrent to "harvest" an embryo for research -- because it destroys a soul? If so, as Sam Harris speculates, what is the mathematics of souls when it comes to identical twins and chimeras, which diverge after fertilization? Thank goodness the Catholic Church may have recently resolved for us the issue of whether unbaptized embryos go to Limbo or not! There must be a special place in heaven for embryos from fertilization clinics.

And what about all those unused embryos, from precisely the processes that are now off the federal support list, that get destroyed as a matter of course? What about miscarriages -- grounds for "shock and abhor"? Is your "shock and abhor" strategy based on unfulfilled human potential of that set of cells?

For many (you???) the answer is the dictates of their faith. And that's the link to the whole LaClair situation, after all.

Sam Harris put it this way in Letter to a Christian Nation (p.25):

"One of the most pernicious effects of religion is that it tends to divorce morality from the reality of human and animal suffering. Religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are not -- that is, when they have nothing to do with suffering or its alleviation. Indeed, religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are highly immoral -- that is, when pressing these concerns inflicts unnecessary and appalling suffering on innocent human beings. This explains why Christians like yourself expend more "moral" energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide. It explains why you are more concerned about human embryos than about the lifesaving promise of stem-cell research. (Emphasis mine.)And it explains why you can preach against condom use in sub-Saharan Africa while millions die from AIDS there each year."

So -- others can be shocked by, and abhor YOUR position, Bryan. Are you willing to consider the unexplored portions of your own moral map, as you accuse others of blinders? The closest you come in this post is admitting that the issue of abortion is a "complex ethical situation." But even that is in a qualified bone you throw to Paul, where you presume that he would extrapolate the ethical complexity of abortion to the issue of embryonic stem cell research, something I do not recall him doing.

As I go back and read Strife's post, I don't conclude s/he is either misinformed, or misled by the site to which Paul referred. One can substantially understand the reality of current federal stem cell research funding and still rationally land in a continent of one's moral map that finds the Bush policy to be far from "plenty," far from wise, and far from moral. If you cannot see that, it is you that is adrift, not Strife. You have made a similar error in your "2 minute" response to Paul's post, but that is for another time.

Instead, I think you are too smart not to see it, so I suspect you are intentionally obfuscating the issue.

--oneellama

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I was surprised, and then not surprised, at this post by Bryan. Surprised that someone who is clearly intelligent would muddy an important issue at the same time he is accusing Strife of being uninformed or misled on that same issue.  Surprised because he challenges the geography of someone else's "moral map" at the same time he does not show willingness to honestly navigate his own.  Not surprised?  Because this is not the first time Bryan has gone down this kind of path.

I doubt you'll get around to any valid example, including the current one.

It is fine to say that stem cell research receives "plenty of federal funding," but "plenty" seems intended to presume "satisfactory" or "sufficing."

Actually, it's a corrective of the implied "none" at the Web site Paul pointed us to.

Bryan knows full well that MANY scientists  working on stem cell research, and particularly those working on embryonic stem cell research, have been highly critical of the Bush Administration's decisions regarding federal funding of such research. (I won't say "most" scientists, because I'm not a pollster, and I don't want to be accused by Bryan of overstepping the data, which I don't have the time to compile at this writing.)

Well, if many scientists are critical of the administration's decisions regarding federal funding, then I suppose it's okay for an organization advocating for science to lie about Bush.

Bryan correctly acknowledges "stem cell research outside of the existing stem cell lines specified early in Bush's presidency cannot receive federal funds."  He seems to use this funding of a dead-end line of samples to bolster his argument that there is "plenty" of federal funding for stem cell research, even embryonic stem cell research.  Yet he does NOT acknowledge the obvious uproar that this decision created, due to scientific concerns about the viability and limitations of the approved lines, the degree to which the Bush policy decision has actually affected progress in embryonic stem cell research, and the scientific adequacy of promising, non-embryonic pathways.

Right, since I was concerned about correcting the error, not with giving everyone a primer on the state of the debate.

I gave a brief bit of background surrounding the issue where Paul's source was wrong. Any accusation of sin by omission probably ought to take my purpose into account.

Bryan's response apparently assumes that the viability of research pathways beyond the embryonic stem cell approach will suffice as a tradeoff for restricting that research, not just in moral rectitude but also in the breadth of outcomes, their effectiveness, timeliness, and cost-efficiency.

My response assumes nothing. It simply reports the facts accurately.

In my opinion the stem-cell issue is primarily political, since stem cell research using non-embryonic sources has demonstrated excellent success. Researchers have been surprised at the plasticity of non-embryonic stem-cell sources such as the placenta.

Political:

"In response to the panel's recommendations, the Clinton administration, citing moral and ethical concerns, declined to fund research on embryos created solely for research purposes,[1] but did agree to fund research on left-over embryos created by in vitro fertility treatments."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell_research_policy

I don't think that Clinton would have received criticism to the level that Bush has received criticism (Congress ultimately blocked Clinton's policy, which was essentially the same as Bush's).

The theocracy (there's a state-sponsored church there) over in the UK funds embryonic stem-cell research. Go figure.

Bryan says it doesn't occur to Strife that "harvesting living human embryos for their stem cells is itself shocking and abhorrent."  He didn't say "might be," or "could be considered to be" or "some might find it that."  He says "is."  The implication is that the stated position is his own, and he is right.  (Please don't get into a dialectic about what the definition of "is" is.)

Opposition to using embryonic stem cells for research is widespread and unacknowledged by Strife.

"In the European Union, stem cell research using the human embryo is permitted in Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Greece, Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands; however it is illegal in Germany, Austria, Ireland, Italy, and Portugal."

The obvious problem with his simplistic summary is that Bryan is assuming the definition of "living," in order to play the "shock and abhor" strategy, and thus claim the high road when comparing his moral map to Strife's.

lol

Exactly what am I supposedly assuming about "living"?

There should be no dispute that the fetal stem cells used for stem cell therapies are living. The whole point of using the stem cells is that they have the ability to reproduce themselves while achieving differentiation amenable to number of different purposes (regenerating nerve and bone tissues, for example). Dead cells do not reproduce themselves.

You don't get living stem cells from dead tissue. It would be an absolutely reprehensible lie to suggest that living embryonic stem cells come from non-living embryos.

So, Bryan, what is your definition of life?  Does it begin at contraception?  Or even before?  Is an unfertilized egg "living"  How to you feel about "living sperm?"

There is no scientific dispute over whether or not a fertilized egg is living.

Neither unfertilized eggs nor sperm have been recommended as immediate sources of stem cells.

Thanks for playing, though.

If any case, is your definition based on science? Religion? Ethics? Do you believe that a one-minute-old fertilized egg experiences pain when it is destroyed, or has a conciousness that disappears? Do you believe that a soul enters a fertilized egg at the moment of contraception, and that is why it is shocking and abhorrent to "harvest" an embryo for research -- because it destroys a soul?

Life, in this case, is defined scientifically to the extent that science is able to consistently define life. An embryo can be alive whether nor not is experiences pain, has a consciousness, or even a soul.

I really do appreciate your efforts to obscure the issue, however. :)

If so, as Sam Harris speculates, what is the mathematics of souls when it comes to identical twins and chimeras, which diverge after fertilization? Thank goodness the Catholic Church may have recently resolved for us the issue of whether unbaptized embryos go to Limbo or not!

I'm not a Roman Catholic, but it's worth mentioning that Sam Harris' arguments stink.

There are two main Christian positions regarding the origin of the soul. One posits that God creates the soul at some point and confers it on the human cell or cells (methods and timing vary). The other view posits that humans create souls as an innate part of the process of creating new human beings. Under the latter view, identical twins would represent the creation of two new souls with one of the two a type of "parent" of the other.

Is that difficult to follow?

What about all those unused embryos, from precisely the processes that are now off the federal support list, that get destroyed as a matter of course? What about miscarraiges -- grounds for "shock and abhor"? Is your "shock and abhor" strategy based on unfulfilled human potential of that set of cells?

I've already touched on embryos left over from in vitro fertilization techniques (earlier post).

Miscarriages are tragical, but akin to any other human death apart from that. Killing people for their organs would, IMO, be abhorrent.

For many (you???) the answer is the dictates of their faith. And that's the link to the whole LaClair situation, after all.

You, I suppose, have done some scientific experiments that proved that no soul is present at conception, therefore taking stem cells from living human embryos is a moral good. It's not even as bad as steaming some shrimp for dinner, I suppose.

Sam Harris put it this way in Letter to a Christian Nation (p.25):

"One of the most pernicious effects of religion is that it tends to divorce morality from the reality of human and animal suffering. Religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are not -- that is, when they have nothing to do witth suffering or its alleviation. Indeed, religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are highly immoral -- that is, when pressing these concerns inflicts unnecessary and appalling suffering on innocent human beings. This explains why Christians like yourself expend more "moral" energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide. It explains why you are more concerned about human embryos than about the lifesaving promise of stem-cell research. (Emphasis mine.)And it explains why you can preach against condom use in sub-Saharan Africa while millions die from AIDS there each year."

Harris doesn't even have the honesty to distinguish between stem-cell research generally and embryonic stem-cell research.

Using Harris' reasoning, the human experimentation that the Nazis did would be okay if the victims were properly anesthetized.

No suffering (bereavement could be prevented by ensuring that entire families participated in the experimentation program), and science marches on.

So -- others can be shocked and abhored by YOUR position, Bryan.

No doubt.

Are you willing to consider the unexplored portions of your own moral map, as you accuse others of blinders?

There are unexplored portions of my moral map? :)

Look again. I judged Strife purely based on his response, using reasonable inference ("Apparently"). You omitted that while laying out my position, of course. ;)

The closest you come in this post is admitting that the issue of abortion is a "complex ethical situation."

Now compare Strife's acknowledgment of the complexity of the issue. ;)

But even that is in a qualified bone you throw to Paul, where you presume that he would extrapolate the ethical complexity of abortion to the issue of embryonic stem cell research, something I do not recall him doing.

Seems like I kinda made that clear all along ("and probably this issue, by association").

Did you not see that part? :)

As I go back and read Strife's post, I don't conclude s/he is either misinformed, or misled by the site to which Paul referred. One can substantially understand the reality of current federal stem cell research funding and still rationally land in a continent of one's moral map that finds the Bush policy to be far from "plenty," far from wise, and far from moral. If you cannot see that, it is you that is adrift, not Strife.

To give Strife that kind of benefit of the doubt, you'd have to overlook the fact that he regularly publishes error as well as the fact that he did not restrict his "stifled" comment to federal funding.

You have made a similar error in your "2 minute" response to Paul's post, but that is for another time.

When one says "apparently" it implicitly denotes an opinion based on perception. How can expressing an opinion be an error, per se?

Instead, I think you are too smart not to see it, so I suspect you are intentionally obfuscating the issue.

--oneellama

Funny stuff. Do you think it's okay for Paul's favored organization to lie about President Bush?

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Guest 2smart4u
I was surprised, and then not surprised, at this post by Bryan. Surprised that someone who is clearly intelligent would muddy an important issue at the same time he is accusing Strife of being uninformed or misled on that same issue.  Surprised because he challenges the geography of someone else's "moral map" at the same time he does not show willingness to honestly navigate his own.  Not surprised?  Because this is not the first time Bryan has gone down this kind of path.

It is fine to say that stem cell research receives "plenty of federal funding," but "plenty" seems intended to presume "satisfactory" or "sufficing." Bryan knows full well that MANY scientists  working on stem cell research, and particularly those working on embryonic stem cell research, have been highly critical of the Bush Administration's decisions regarding federal funding of such research. (I won't say "most" scientists, because I'm not a pollster, and I don't want to be accused by Bryan of overstepping the data, which I don't have the time to compile at this writing.)

Bryan correctly acknowledges "stem cell research outside of the existing stem cell lines specified early in Bush's presidency cannot receive federal funds."  He seems to use this funding of a dead-end line of samples to bolster his argument that there is "plenty" of federal funding for stem cell research, even embryonic stem cell research.  Yet he does NOT acknowledge the obvious uproar that this decision created, due to scientific concerns about the viability and limitations of the approved lines, the degree to which the Bush policy decision has actually affected progress in embryonic stem cell research, and the scientific adequacy of promising, non-embryonic pathways.

Bryan's response apparently assumes that the viability of research pathways beyond the embryonic stem cell approach will suffice as a tradeoff for restricting that research, not just in moral rectitude but also in the breadth of outcomes, their effectiveness, timeliness, and cost-efficiency.

Bryan says it doesn't occur to Strife that "harvesting living human embryos for their stem cells is itself shocking and abhorrent."  He didn't say "might be," or "could be considered to be" or "some might find it that."  He says "is."  The implication is that the stated position is his own, and he is right.  (Please don't get into a dialectic about what the definition of "is" is.)

The obvious problem with his simplistic summary is that Bryan is assuming the definition of "living," in order to play the "shock and abhor" strategy, and thus claim the high road when comparing his moral map to Strife's.  So, Bryan, what is your definition of life?  Does it begin at contraception?  Or even before?  Is an unfertilized egg "living"  How to you feel about "living sperm?"

If any case, is your definition based on science?  Religion?  Ethics?  Do you believe that a one-minute-old fertilized egg experiences pain when it is destroyed, or has a conciousness that disappears?  Do you believe that a soul enters a fertilized egg at the moment of contraception, and that is why it is shocking and abhorrent to "harvest" an embryo for research -- because it destroys a soul?  If so, as Sam Harris speculates, what is the mathematics of souls when it comes to identical twins and chimeras, which diverge after fertilization?  Thank goodness the Catholic Church may have recently resolved for us the issue of whether unbaptized embryos go to Limbo or not!

What about all those unused embryos, from precisely the processes that are now off the federal support list, that get destroyed as a matter of course?  What about miscarraiges -- grounds for "shock and abhor"?  Is your "shock and abhor" strategy based on unfulfilled human potential of that set of cells?

For many (you???) the answer is the dictates of their faith.  And that's the link to the whole LaClair situation, after all.

Sam Harris put it this way in Letter to a Christian Nation (p.25):

"One of the most pernicious effects of religion is that it tends to divorce morality from the reality of human and animal suffering.  Religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are not -- that is, when they have nothing to do witth suffering or its alleviation.  Indeed, religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are highly immoral -- that is, when pressing these concerns inflicts unnecessary and appalling suffering on innocent human beings.  This explains why Christians like yourself expend more "moral" energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide.  It explains why you are more concerned about human embryos than about the lifesaving promise of stem-cell research.    (Emphasis mine.)And it explains why you can preach against condom use in sub-Saharan Africa while millions die from AIDS there each year."

So -- others can be shocked and abhored by YOUR position, Bryan.  Are you willing to consider the unexplored portions of your own moral map, as you accuse others of blinders?  The closest you come in this post is admitting that the issue of abortion is a "complex ethical situation." But even that is in a qualified bone you throw to Paul, where you presume that he would extrapolate the ethical complexity of abortion to the issue of embryonic stem cell research, something I do not recall him doing.

As I go back and read Strife's post, I don't conclude s/he is either misinformed, or misled by the site to which Paul referred.  One can substantially understand the reality of current federal stem cell research funding and still rationally land in a continent of one's moral map that finds the Bush policy to be far from "plenty," far from wise, and far from moral.  If you cannot see that, it is you that is adrift, not Strife.  You have made a similar error in your "2 minute" response to Paul's post, but that is for another time.

Instead, I think you are too smart not to see it, so I suspect you are intentionally obfuscating the issue.

--oneellama

Ho-Hum, so very boring.

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Guest qetzal
And I did it without mentioning pregnant women or even the term "fetus" (I used "embryo" and you might be interested in the difference between the two):

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fetus

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/embryo

Would you be able to answer if you were expected to explain what part of my post led you to conclude that I made it "seem like someone wants to yank living fetuses out of pregnant women and use them for research."?

Sure. It's that word harvest. It's a term usually used in reference to collecting embryos fertilized in vivo. And since you made such a point of your word choice vis a vis embryo, then surely you chose "harvest" deliberately as well?

I haven't heard of anyone seriously proposing to harvest embryos for their stem cells. Maybe you meant 'harvest stem cells from living embryos'? That would be more accurate.

By the way, you might note that Strife's post never said anything in favor of harvesting embryos. If you don't like people putting words in your mouth, you might chose not to do so yourself.

And Strife - I owe you an apology. When I first read your post, I somehow assumed you were talking about people who object to abortion. In fact, I see now that your complaint was about religious objections to stem cell funding. Obviously, although there's a link, they're not the same. Sorry for putting my words in your mouth.

P.S. While I respect a concientious Christian's right to object to abortion on moral grounds, I fully agree with you that objecting on grounds that women should have to pay consequences for premarital sex is just nauseating.

P.P.S. Apologies to all for not using my nom de 'net on my previous post. Yesterday's 11:47AM post was mine, and I didn't mean to post as Guest.

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Guest 2smart4u
I was surprised, and then not surprised, at this post by Bryan. Surprised that someone who is clearly intelligent would muddy an important issue at the same time he is accusing Strife of being uninformed or misled on that same issue.  Surprised because he challenges the geography of someone else's "moral map" at the same time he does not show willingness to honestly navigate his own.  Not surprised?  Because this is not the first time Bryan has gone down this kind of path.

It is fine to say that stem cell research receives "plenty of federal funding," but "plenty" seems intended to presume "satisfactory" or "sufficing." Bryan knows full well that MANY scientists  working on stem cell research, and particularly those working on embryonic stem cell research, have been highly critical of the Bush Administration's decisions regarding federal funding of such research. (I won't say "most" scientists, because I'm not a pollster, and I don't want to be accused by Bryan of overstepping the data, which I don't have the time to compile at this writing.)

Bryan correctly acknowledges "stem cell research outside of the existing stem cell lines specified early in Bush's presidency cannot receive federal funds."  He seems to use this funding of a dead-end line of samples to bolster his argument that there is "plenty" of federal funding for stem cell research, even embryonic stem cell research.  Yet he does NOT acknowledge the obvious uproar that this decision created, due to scientific concerns about the viability and limitations of the approved lines, the degree to which the Bush policy decision has actually affected progress in embryonic stem cell research, and the scientific adequacy of promising, non-embryonic pathways.

Bryan's response apparently assumes that the viability of research pathways beyond the embryonic stem cell approach will suffice as a tradeoff for restricting that research, not just in moral rectitude but also in the breadth of outcomes, their effectiveness, timeliness, and cost-efficiency.

Bryan says it doesn't occur to Strife that "harvesting living human embryos for their stem cells is itself shocking and abhorrent."  He didn't say "might be," or "could be considered to be" or "some might find it that."  He says "is."  The implication is that the stated position is his own, and he is right.  (Please don't get into a dialectic about what the definition of "is" is.)

The obvious problem with his simplistic summary is that Bryan is assuming the definition of "living," in order to play the "shock and abhor" strategy, and thus claim the high road when comparing his moral map to Strife's.  So, Bryan, what is your definition of life?  Does it begin at contraception?  Or even before?  Is an unfertilized egg "living"  How to you feel about "living sperm?"

If any case, is your definition based on science?  Religion?  Ethics?  Do you believe that a one-minute-old fertilized egg experiences pain when it is destroyed, or has a conciousness that disappears?  Do you believe that a soul enters a fertilized egg at the moment of contraception, and that is why it is shocking and abhorrent to "harvest" an embryo for research -- because it destroys a soul?  If so, as Sam Harris speculates, what is the mathematics of souls when it comes to identical twins and chimeras, which diverge after fertilization?  Thank goodness the Catholic Church may have recently resolved for us the issue of whether unbaptized embryos go to Limbo or not!

What about all those unused embryos, from precisely the processes that are now off the federal support list, that get destroyed as a matter of course?  What about miscarraiges -- grounds for "shock and abhor"?  Is your "shock and abhor" strategy based on unfulfilled human potential of that set of cells?

For many (you???) the answer is the dictates of their faith.  And that's the link to the whole LaClair situation, after all.

Sam Harris put it this way in Letter to a Christian Nation (p.25):

"One of the most pernicious effects of religion is that it tends to divorce morality from the reality of human and animal suffering.  Religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are not -- that is, when they have nothing to do witth suffering or its alleviation.  Indeed, religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are highly immoral -- that is, when pressing these concerns inflicts unnecessary and appalling suffering on innocent human beings.  This explains why Christians like yourself expend more "moral" energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide.  It explains why you are more concerned about human embryos than about the lifesaving promise of stem-cell research.    (Emphasis mine.)And it explains why you can preach against condom use in sub-Saharan Africa while millions die from AIDS there each year."

So -- others can be shocked and abhored by YOUR position, Bryan.  Are you willing to consider the unexplored portions of your own moral map, as you accuse others of blinders?  The closest you come in this post is admitting that the issue of abortion is a "complex ethical situation." But even that is in a qualified bone you throw to Paul, where you presume that he would extrapolate the ethical complexity of abortion to the issue of embryonic stem cell research, something I do not recall him doing.

As I go back and read Strife's post, I don't conclude s/he is either misinformed, or misled by the site to which Paul referred.  One can substantially understand the reality of current federal stem cell research funding and still rationally land in a continent of one's moral map that finds the Bush policy to be far from "plenty," far from wise, and far from moral.  If you cannot see that, it is you that is adrift, not Strife.  You have made a similar error in your "2 minute" response to Paul's post, but that is for another time.

Instead, I think you are too smart not to see it, so I suspect you are intentionally obfuscating the issue.

--oneellama

Anyone who reads the newspaper knows all sides of this issue. It's yesterday's news, old and boring.

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I was surprised, and then not surprised, at this post by Bryan. Surprised that someone who is clearly intelligent would muddy an important issue at the same time he is accusing Strife of being uninformed or misled on that same issue.  Surprised because he challenges the geography of someone else's "moral map" at the same time he does not show willingness to honestly navigate his own.  Not surprised?  Because this is not the first time Bryan has gone down this kind of path.

It is fine to say that stem cell research receives "plenty of federal funding," but "plenty" seems intended to presume "satisfactory" or "sufficing." Bryan knows full well that MANY scientists  working on stem cell research, and particularly those working on embryonic stem cell research, have been highly critical of the Bush Administration's decisions regarding federal funding of such research. (I won't say "most" scientists, because I'm not a pollster, and I don't want to be accused by Bryan of overstepping the data, which I don't have the time to compile at this writing.)

Bryan correctly acknowledges "stem cell research outside of the existing stem cell lines specified early in Bush's presidency cannot receive federal funds."  But he seems to use this funding of a very limited, dead-end line of samples to bolster his argument that there is "plenty" of federal funding for stem cell research, even embryonic stem cell research.  Yet he does NOT acknowledge the obvious uproar that this decision created, due to scientific concerns about the viability and limitations of the approved lines, the degree to which the Bush policy decision has actually affected progress in embryonic stem cell research, and the scientific adequacy of non-embryonic pathways.

Bryan's response apparently assumes that the viability of research pathways beyond the embryonic stem cell approach will suffice as a tradeoff for the restricted research options in embryonic stem cell lines.  He apparently ignores issues of the breadth of outcomes, their effectiveness, timeliness, and cost, trumped by his own moral map. 

Bryan says it doesn't occur to Strife that "harvesting living human embryos for their stem cells is itself shocking and abhorrent."  He didn't say "might be," or "could be considered to be" or "some might find it that."  He says "is."  The implication is that the stated position is his own, and that he is obviously right.  (Please don't get into a dissection of the definition of "is.")

The obvious problem with his simplistic summary is that Bryan is assuming the definition of "living," in order to play the "shock and abhor" strategy, and thus claim the high road when comparing his moral map to Strife's.  So, Bryan, what is your definition of life?  Does it begin at conception?  Or even before?  Is an unfertilized egg "living"  How to you feel about "living sperm?"

If any case, is your definition based on science?  Religion?  Ethics?  Do you believe that a one-minute-old fertilized egg experiences pain when it is destroyed, or has a consciousness that disappears?  Do you believe that a soul enters a fertilized egg at the moment of conception, and that is why it is shocking and abhorrent to "harvest" an embryo for research -- because it destroys a soul?  If so, as Sam Harris speculates, what is the mathematics of souls when it comes to identical twins and chimeras, which diverge after fertilization?  Thank goodness the Catholic Church may have recently resolved for us the issue of whether unbaptized embryos go to Limbo or not!  There must be a special place in heaven for embryos from fertilization clinics.

And what about all those unused embryos, from precisely the processes that are now off the federal support list, that get destroyed as a matter of course?  What about miscarriages -- grounds for "shock and abhor"?  Is your "shock and abhor" strategy based on unfulfilled human potential of that set of cells? 

For many (you???) the answer is the dictates of their faith.  And that's the link to the whole LaClair situation, after all.

Sam Harris put it this way in Letter to a Christian Nation (p.25):

"One of the most pernicious effects of religion is that it tends to divorce morality from the reality of human and animal suffering.  Religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are not -- that is, when they have nothing to do with suffering or its alleviation.  Indeed, religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are highly immoral -- that is, when pressing these concerns inflicts unnecessary and appalling suffering on innocent human beings.  This explains why Christians like yourself expend more "moral" energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide.  It explains why you are more concerned about human embryos than about the lifesaving promise of stem-cell research.    (Emphasis mine.)And it explains why you can preach against condom use in sub-Saharan Africa while millions die from AIDS there each year."

So -- others can be shocked by, and abhor YOUR position, Bryan.  Are you willing to consider the unexplored portions of your own moral map, as you accuse others of blinders?  The closest you come in this post is admitting that the issue of abortion is a "complex ethical situation." But even that is in a qualified bone you throw to Paul, where you presume that he would extrapolate the ethical complexity of abortion to the issue of embryonic stem cell research, something I do not recall him doing.

As I go back and read Strife's post, I don't conclude s/he is either misinformed, or misled by the site to which Paul referred.  One can substantially understand the reality of current federal stem cell research funding and still rationally land in a continent of one's moral map that finds the Bush policy to be far from "plenty," far from wise, and far from moral.  If you cannot see that, it is you that is adrift, not Strife.  You have made a similar error in your "2 minute" response to Paul's post, but that is for another time.

Instead, I think you are too smart not to see it, so I suspect you are intentionally obfuscating the issue.

--oneellama

Bryan obfuscates nearly every issue. He has to in order to maintain his sense of being right. Whether he is doing it deliberately is something we cannot know. He probably doesn't even know, because he may not realize he is doing it, as hard as that may be to believe.

Anyone who has accepted the proposition that there is a god who is the way he is because that's how the individual want him to be (i.e., has faith in it), and then has managed to reconcile perfect goodness with eternal torment (entirely gratuitous since God is supposedly omnipotent), has set the stage for justifying any atrocity and any absurdity. That explains why early Americans were able to justify the freedom to own slaves.

When you add to that the combination of a decent intellect (can't tell if it's any more than that, he's certainly not as smart as he thinks he is) and an incredibly stubborn and persistent personality, you get someone who cannot be reasoned with. If you try, you'll just frustrate yourself, and to no end unfortunately. I just wonder when it's going to end --- not that I mind reading it, I just wonder.

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Strife - I owe you an apology. When I first read your post, I somehow assumed you were talking about people who object to abortion. In fact, I see now that your complaint was about religious objections to stem cell funding. Obviously, although there's a link, they're not the same. Sorry for putting my words in your mouth.

Apology accepted. No big deal; it was an accident. :)

P.S. While I respect a concientious Christian's right to object to abortion on moral grounds, I fully agree with you that objecting on grounds that women should have to pay consequences for premarital sex is just nauseating.

Yeah... :)

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Sure. It's that word harvest. It's a term usually used in reference to collecting embryos fertilized in vivo.

It's a term used for everything from picking grapes to catching fish.

The usual usage angle appears to disregard the practice of granting the author the benefit of the doubt regarding his meaning.

And since you made such a point of your word choice vis a vis embryo, then surely you chose "harvest" deliberately as well?

Instead I should have used _________?

(collect, use, exploit)

What euphemism would you prefer I employ?

I haven't heard of anyone seriously proposing to harvest embryos for their stem cells.

That's the only way to obtain stem cells from an embryo, sorry to inform you. Embryos do not survive the process. They are grown to what is deemed an appropriate stage and then the stem cells are removed from the embryo, rather like taking olives from an olive tree except that the olive tree will survive. It's more like a corn harvest where the the field dies, to be replanted at another time.

The embryos are harvested like fish, and the valuable parts exploited.

Maybe you meant 'harvest stem cells from living embryos'? That would be more accurate.

Both are equally accurate. Embryos that are not taken (as with a fishing net) do not have their stem cells exploited, just as fish not taken in the nets do not have their filets taken to market.

The filets may be said to be harvested after the fish are harvested.

By the way, you might note that Strife's post never said anything in favor of harvesting embryos. If you don't like people putting words in your mouth, you might chose not to do so yourself.

Careful with that irony, there.

I didn't claim that Strife said anything about harvesting embryos. I simply said that his post made it appear that he hadn't considered that harvesting embryos for their stem cells was abhorrent. His silence on the matter contributes to that impression, if you think about it.

Why not think about it?

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